Aircraft Carrier Stennis Has Biggest Ordnance Onload Since 2010

Tyler Durden's picture

Nearly two weeks ago, we were surprised to read on the Navy's website that one of America's prize aircraft carriers, CVN-74, John C. Stennis (whose crew is perhaps best known for the following awkward incident), as part of an operational training period in preparation for future deployments, just underwent not only its first ordnance onload since 2010, but, according to Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Jason Engleman, G-5 division's leading chief petty officer, "the biggest ordnance onload we've seen."

From the Stennis' blog:

USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) visited Naval Magazine (NAVMAG) Indian Island, the Navy’s primary ordnance storage and handling station on the West Coast, to onload six million pounds of ammunition, Jan. 13-15. “This is the biggest ordnance onload we’ve seen,” said Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Jason Engleman, G-5 division’s leading chief petty officer. “We haven’t had an onload since December 2010, and we are ready to show what this warship can do.”


The ship plans to take on two-thirds of its weight capacity during the three day evolution. Bombs, missiles and rounds will be onloaded by 1,400 crane lifts.


“The importance of the Indian Island visit is to provide ammunition for the ship’s defense, and assist with training during this underway,” said Lt. Cmdr. Steve Kashuba, Stennis’ ordnance handler officer.




The ordnance onload was an all-hands evolution and included Sailors from AIMD, air, navigation, safety, security, supply and medical departments. Sailors served as watchstanders, safety observers or ordnance handlers to ensure the evolution ran smoothly.

Why engage in such a major weapon loading process now? We don't know, and we certainly won't until the next deployment of the carrier, currently located in San Diego to receive aircraft and another 2000 sailors, is announced but it does seem coincidental that the same aircraft carrier which the Iranian General Ataollah Salehi warned back in Janiary 2012 "not to return to the Persian Gulf" was being loaded to the gills with weapons ahead of the following three major macro events: i) the sudden and unexpected fall of the US-supported Yemen government; ii) the biggest re-escalation in the Ukraine civil war since the spring of 2014, and iii) the death of the King Abdullah. And who knows what other "unexpected" geopolitical events are about to surprise the world?

While we wait the answer, here are some photos of how the Stennis is loading up with six million pounds of ammo:

Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Joshua Haynes, from Nashville, Tenn., and Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Joseph Dina, from Naperville, Ill., move BLU-111 500-pound bombs during an ammunition on-load aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).


Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Donald Theriot, from New Orleans, verifies ordnance placement during an ammunition on-load aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).


Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Matthew Warren takes inventory of BLU-111 500-pound bombs.


Aviation Ordnanceman Mariko Armstrong, from Denver, takes inventory of BLU-111 500-pound bombs.

Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class David Mele, from San Diego, directs movement of BLU-117 2000-pound bombs.


Sailors prepare to move BLU-117 2000-pound bombs


CBU-99 cluster bombs are staged during an ammunition on-load aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74)


BLU-111 500-pound bombs are staged during an ammunition on-load aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).

Aviation Ordnanceman David Black, from Helena, Ala., Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Dillon Simmons, from Lewistown, Mont., and Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Martin Pena, from Bronx, N.Y., prepare to move AGM-88 missiles


Aviation Orndnaceman 3rd Class Garrison Gardner, from Chandler, Ariz., and Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Steven Paxton from Brian, Ohio, prepare to lower a mine kit


Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Dillon Simmons, from Lewistown, Mont., and Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Martin Pena, from Bronx, N.Y., guide AGM-88 missiles as they are lowered


Source: CVN-74

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johngaltfla's picture

I'll repeat what I said earlier because of the number of ships and men being moved into the region:

With the Death of the Saudi King, a US Invasion of Yemen is only Weeks Away
NoDebt's picture

I love the word ordnance.  How often do you get to put an N directly after a D in english?  

SoberOne's picture

Adnexa. Learned a new word.

CrazyCooter's picture

I once heard a fellow conservative complain, "The government spends money like a drunk sailor!". He was quickly corrected by a sailor who pointed out, "That is not correct. Drunk sailors stop spending when they run out of money."



TahoeBilly2012's picture

Can be made useless with one air detonated nuke or maybe even a electronic jamming transmission. White elephant.

fascismlover's picture

That's true but these things always seem to start small and end big so usa goes over and starts pissing firecrackers down resulting in us needing 10,000 K sunblock stateside. 

TahoeBilly2012's picture

That's why I went skiing and skipped work the last few days, live fast die young.

CrazyCooter's picture

Sunny Bono quote, right?



fascismlover's picture

That train always comes...blizzard would be a perfect time...maximum confusion and no witnesses. 

BigJim's picture

Photos like these always make me think of the Death Star, for some reason.

Anusocracy's picture

It makes me think of what a fucking waste government is.

Manthong's picture


I hadn’t heard about that largest Australian offload until just now.

TruxtonSpangler's picture

Will just make a larger black smudge on the ocean when hit with a sunburn or a mosquito.

BuddyEffed's picture

Could be heading to Greece to put down that uprising!  sarc

fleur de lis's picture

They are hell bent on starting another war by whatever means necessary.

Urban Redneck's picture whatever means necessary, as long as they get to use all those US mines and cluster bombs they picked up at Uncle Sam's Club on moar civilian populations.

Romney Wordsworth's picture
Romney Wordsworth (not verified) Headbanger Jan 27, 2015 7:09 AM

Any minute now Jordan Tate is gonna come poppin' out of the cake.

overmedicatedundersexed's picture

romney, warms the heart..funny that scene never makes it to tv reruns of under s.

JohninMK's picture

Think about it for a moment. The last time it uploaded ammo was 4/5 years ago. So potentially this load could be on it for at least that long.

Can anyone come up with another potential area of risk for TPTB in say 2017/8?

Perhaps closer to home even?


The Black Bishop's picture

Remember the Maine!!!


Cant have nice firework without breaking a few cruisemissiles.

weburke's picture

THe best investment might be to buy what you use regularly, stock up before the price goes up because availabliity goes down. Iram has long promised to disrupt more than oil. And elites will tank us all at once. Why cash in your gold when every thing has just gone way up in price due to war disruptions. Even a pencil has a vast supply chain. Imagine all the element in your toothpaste, the products your wife uses regularly, YOU use regularly. Front page of thanksgiving wash post was homeland top guy saying "hostile countries, AND GROUPS, -wtf-, now have the power to disrupt fuel delivery, power, supply chains, govt, ect." Things are cheap now, and available. THAT, I think, is what is going to change.

Pairadimes's picture

More than likely one of Obama's major donors sent him a message written on Amalgamated Death Inc. letterhead complaining about faltering cash flow in the military industrial complex. There are simply not enough shards of hot metal screaming through the atmosphere to keep the chairman in Beluga caviar and teenage Thai boys.

king leon's picture

Not wise! I hear that the greeks are now training Kamikaze pilots. /sarc   

dirty dolphin's picture

I hadn’t heard about that largest Australian offload


More ordnance than the locals could endure.  

Oh regional Indian's picture

That is a lot of "peace bombs" from a nation lead by a nocowbell piece prize winning resident headed some poor brown skinned people's way because their resident dick tater was out of por favor?

MIC is smiling like a chess shire cat on the nip.

Senator Pork has taken a frying dip, he likes it too...

Take it away ordinary ordnance man

you are but a cog

in the death machine....

Raymond K Hessel's picture

Is ORI having a stroke or did his account get hacked by Jar Jar Binx?

COSMOS's picture

Women and kids quake around the world.  ISIS is getting resupplied.

CrazyCooter's picture

If this shit gets real, they won't even bother. They will just start blowing shit up.

Observe that as time goes on, there is less concern expended on pretending.

When the pretending stops, it's real.



CrazyCooter's picture

I would be curious what more educated ZH posters have to say, but a Navy is a dated asset in many ways these days if the weapons you describe are more widely available.

This makes the key question; does the enemy have such weapons? If they don't then it is moot.

Being able to take out key ships by overwhelming conventional rocketry is also a potential issue, but a much more complicated one given offense and defense dance along as they adapt to each other.

All that said, we might be finding out both answers fairly soon if this escalates.



cynicalskeptic's picture

In a war game scenario in the Middle East against Iran, the US got it's ass kicked with numerous carriers taken out by current gen Russian Cruise Missles.  


Remember the Falklands?  Even back then ships were vulnerable to missles - and they've gotten better.   Does the US actually think others can't play the 'smart ordanance' game back? Aircraft carriers are BIG targets full of flammable fuel and explosive ordanance.

STP's picture

The Russian Sunburn missile system is supposedly ten years ahead of anything else out there.  There's already a 'Super' version out there that can fly at Mach 3.0!  Very lethal, very manueverable and as mentioned extremely fast.  I wonder how a carrier would handle a salvo of five or six of these things, coming at it.  If I was on the deck, I'd be shifting bricks and getting some religion, really quick.

edotabin's picture

I'm responding not because I'm attempting to sound edumacated but because the topic was of interest to me as well and I did a tiny (I repeat TINY) bit of research.

I would say there is a lot of speculation and a lot of it is borderline claptrap.

This concept of hitting a large ship is not new.  The Japanese did it with the Zeros and the British learned a hard lesson in the Falklands when the Exocet hit their ship and that was decades ago. The USN didn't let that incident go unnoticed.

You would have to look at a carrier group more as a war system as opposed to an individual big, flat thing floating around. There are scores of weapons capable of hitting and sinking a carrier available today. Having those weapons and being able to deploy them are two different issues though.  The carrier groups have weapons as well and there is a very good chance they can strike and neutralize the enemy's weapons far before they would be in any direct danger. Distance is key as the carrier group can overcome this hurdle easily with missiles and aircraft.

The defense system operates in a tiered method and extends from launch detection all the way to CIWS which is basically a gattling gun with a radar tracking incoming threats. So, the farther the launch site is, the greater the amount of time the carrier group has to defend against this. They are now beginning to mount lasers onto the ships which track and destroy missles etc.

Carrier groups are known to keep large, upcoming nations at bay to a certain extent. And when said nations want to act macho, what do they do? They try to get a carrier, even if an old and rusted Russian one.

I haven't heard of a modern carrier being hit/sunk over the past 30-40 years. So I suppose, that too, is an indication of something. If nothing else, possible attackers fear the overall repurcussions such an act would have. 

Overall, I come back to distance and force projection.  The farther back a carrier can stay and project force, the greater the advantage.  It is very possible it is reaching the point of diminishing returns though.

They could very well be extremely expensive boats designed to drain us for $$$. After all, the TPTB are known for such shows.


STP's picture

Good points and I'm familiar with the tiered defense, using frigates and destroyers, but as others mentioned, a tight spot like the Suez or any number of straits would make a carrier vulnerable, as there wouldn't be a lot of room for multiple rings of defense around the carrier.

And of ccourse, there are other threats, mentioned here, including subs, EMP and even tactical nukes.  I think it's become more wide open than before.  China is working on a Blue Water Navy as well.  Things are getting interesting....

edotabin's picture

Actually, that was one of the questions I posed.  Why would China want such a navy if they are nothing more than target practice? There's got to be a reason. So either they are just wasting money and playing the part or the navy and powerful ships actually have some pull.

Maybe they have invented the Coppertone missile that neutralizes the Sunburn and we just don't know about it :-0

Apologies for the saracasm towards the end but the overly simplistic comments about the Sunburn missile make me feel like I'm reading youtube comments.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Copertone deterrant for Sunburn...good one edo :-)

That said, Aircraft carriers are white elephants. 

They used to be force projection vehicles in the old days, but today, a drone is a much scarier force projection unit than a ship-borne fighter.

A Submarine based missile likewise.

Aircraft carriers are a left-over from the days of yore and might just be getting put in harm's way (read false flagged) to rile up the Support our Troops folks back home, sad as that is to ponder for many. Doubters can search for Operation Northwoods.

This is why Total Informations Awareness, AWACS, CCCI...these are the new buzzwords for modern day war-planners. You can do much more damage by crippling a nation's banking/power infra than old fashioned bombing.


All that said, Russian war machinery is orders of magnitude betterdesigned and hardened that American. Orders of magnitude.

Ill winds for sure though....


Ponder this:

COSMOS's picture

True but look at all the ordnance you can pack on that elephant.  Enough to level a country conventionally.  THey are a great way on intimidating countries without nuclear weapons.

Headbanger's picture

You idiots above! 

A naval task force can be stationed out of range of most of the threats you mooks say make a navy obsolete!

Ever hear of PEARL HARBOR you mooks!?

The carriers weren't there and later used to kick the crap out of the Japanese at Midway


fishmonger's picture

Take it easy, tiger. Too much stress is bad for the ol' ticker.

jonjon831983's picture

China would probably want carriers more for force projection and support of operations, such as maintaining trade routes and delivering assistance to trade partners. Basically what warfare has been about for the last few decades after WW2 has been mostly small operations where you have small force backed up by air power against less sophisticated adversaries.  ie. not "total war" where entire economies are converted towards war production and everything is a target.

Even if China had a navy 50% of US Naval capacity, so what for both sides?  Though they'd be wary of one another; it doesn't mean they would go hot against each other.  Despite the bravado of both sides' indoctrination of we're stronger and better than they are too much would be at stake including the risk of an open declaration of war.  They'd just go about their business operating within their spheres of influence.

My guess is if a carrier killer cruise missile is used then everybody would probably be worried. Using something like that to attack the symbol of power would be too risky during the usual small scale grinding proxy wars where small state players don't normally have these capabilities.  A carrier killer fired would likely be instantly identified and the country of origin then held liable.  Unless you're ready to go hot, toe to toe, then you wouldn't deploy carrier killers (or any other "game changer" type of force).  Proxy handlers would likely not allow their thralls to use or even hint at having/deploying them until it fits their overall plans.

CrazyCooter's picture

edotabin and jonjon831983, thanks for your comments.

No one really knows except the admirals I suppose, but things are going to get dicey for a while and I think it is a good mental exercise to walk through the scenarios and understand implications before they hit the MSM.



ebear's picture

"Why would China want such a navy if they are nothing more than target practice? "

Piracy.  A lot of China's shipping passes through the Malacca strait:

Nexus789's picture

If I recall correctly during one of the Gulf Wars a missile would have probably hit a US carrier. Howver, a missile from a UK ship intercepted it. But that was a subsonic missile.

Also your scenario is ideal out in the wide open ocean. But what about close inshore. For example, ike the Strait of Hormuz which is not very wide and shallow in places. Also the coastline on the Iranian side is very rugged.